Written By: Arfa Chaudhry – ARC Pakistan/Islamabad

A True Champion – Naheed Bibi

The educational scene in Pakistan represents a bleak picture. With poor educational infrastructure and lack of parents’ interest in sending children to school, local communities are facing the real brunt where education is being replaced with nominal sources of income. With a large influx of Afghan Refugees in the aftermath of Soviet-Afghan war in 1970’s, the Afghan society became more prone to both risks, namely, limited opportunities and resources. The education of their children was the least prioritized because the survival of the community was at stake.

Naheed Bibi, merely a 40-year-old woman belonging to Swat Valley took the challenge in the real earnest. In her childhood, financial constraints coupled with cultural barriers restricted Naheed to acquire education. It was those hardships which aroused her attention to focus on education. Due to her perseverance, she promoted education and opted to help the community with a sharp focus on girls who are missing out on their basic right to education.

Initially, Naheed faced many hurdles when she started advocating for inclusive and equitable education for both boys and girls. Parents and community elders were not willing to send their children to schools especially girls. She effectively mobilised the community by interacting with various local groups including Youth Assembly Manshera, regularly liaison with government officials, school teachers, representatives from Media and ARC Volunteers who are working tirelessly to promote inclusive and equitable education for children coming from humblest backgrounds.

Naheed is currently working across four tehsils of district Mansehra, among which are four Afghan Refugees camps, which she considers home. Despite the absence of her own family, these communities have become a huge part of Naheed’s life and she considers them her family. She treats the children in these communities as her own, the community elders as her parents and the teachers as her brothers and sisters.

Ms. Naheed is a devoted lady for the cause of education. Notwithstanding of her meagre resource and nominal earning source, she has proved her worth with passionate and consecrated spirit for educating children who are away from school for varied reason. In a poverty stricken area of Mansehra, local community is prone to child labor which got Naheed’s attention. She has played a huge role in advocating for their right to education by finding plausible solutions to balance their time for both Education and Employment.

Recognising her endless efforts to improve educational attainments, ARC Pakistan awarded her with best Literacy Mobiliser of the year in 2018. With over 2100 enrollments in 2018, Naheed has become a source of inspiration for other Literacy Mobilisers and the communities who are promoting education in most remote areas of Pakistan.

 

“I don’t have a family but the love and acceptance I have received from the community is overwhelming. I treat the community elders as my real parents and their children as mine. It’s the biggest motivation rather a driving force“, expressed Naheed Bibi, Literacy Mobiliser, ARC Pakistan.

Educate A Child (EAC) is a global initiative of Education Above All (EAA) Qatar, which aims to significantly reduce the number of children worldwide who are missing out on their right to education. The program is implemented (2018-20) across Pakistan by the American Refugee Committee (ARC) in collaboration with Government of Pakistan (GoP). So far, ARC Pakistan has enrolled 27,104 OOSC in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the first year out of the total three years target of 59,762.